A dear friend in Scotland sent me a Christmas Card with a picture of Fr Martin Mary, of the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists, celebrating his First Mass (a High Mass) on the Scottish Mainland. The picture at first seems fuzzy ... until one one realisess that a brilliant beam of sunlight is shining down through the incense-smoke onto the young celebrant. Beautiful!
It reminded me of this evocative poem by Sir John Betjeman, with its marvellous and moving final stanza. It seems so prophetic as an evocation of the resurrection of Catholic Worship witnessed by so many youthful movements in the Catholic Church, not least the Papa Stronsay Redemptorists and the Ordinariates. I deem it ripe for yet another showing (a philological question at the end). Fans out, everybody!
What a difference there is between Waking and Woke!
We, who remember the Faith, the grey-headed ones,
Of those Anglo-Catholic Congresses swinging along,
Who heard the South Coast salvo of incense-guns
And surged to the Albert Hall in our thousands strong
With 'extreme' colonial bishops leading in song;
We, who remember, look back to the blossoming May-time
On ghosts of servers and thurifers after Mass,
The slapping of backs, the flapping of cassocks, the play-time,
A game of Grandmother's Steps on the vicarage grass -
"Father, a little more sherry. I'll fill your glass".
We recall the triumph, that Sunday after Ascension,
When our Protestant suffragan suffered himself to be coped -
The SYA and the Scheme for Church Extension -
The new diocesan's not as 'sound' as we'd hoped,
And Kensit threatens and has Sam Gurney poped?
Yet, under the Travers Baroque, in a limewashed whiteness,
The fiddle-back vestments a-glitter with morning rays,
Our Lady's image, in multiple-candled brightness,
The bells and banners - those were the waking days
When Faith was taught and fanned to a golden blaze.
Interesting, the pronunciation (inferred from the rhymes) of 'Mass'. Mascall's verse also implied this pronunciation, which, of course, is not universal in English English. I invite philological comments.